5 Tips to Prevent a Carbon Monoxide Disaster

Carbon Monoxide Detector

The term “silent killer” is a descriptive term, often used in a figurative sense in the media, because typically it is used when discussing a disease or ailment that may be deadly, but it doesn’t tend to garner a lot of media attention. However, when it comes to home security and carbon monoxide, “silent killer” is a term that can be applied quite literally. For those who don’t know, carbon monoxide is a deadly by-product of combustion that is created by common appliances like furnaces, gas water heaters and vehicles. Carbon monoxide is so dangerous because it’s invisible, odorless and tasteless. Also, because carbon monoxide is lighter than air, it can rise to perilous levels very quickly.

Unfortunately, carbon monoxide concerns tend to fall under the “it will never happen to me” category… and that’s when things get hazardous. Whether you’re a homeowner, business owner, or both, it is definitely in your best interest to contact a local security company about equipping a property with carbon monoxide sensors. However, in order to make a proper decision about what safety measures to take, one must first be informed and properly educated.

Carbon monoxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. The most common side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, nausea and unconsciousness. Carbon monoxide stops your blood from transporting oxygen to your vital organs, specifically the brain. Many people believe that they are experiencing nausea or vertigo when the effects of carbon monoxide first hit, which is a very dangerous mistake to make. This can all be prevented by simply investing in carbon monoxide sensors, but here are some additional tips to help prevent carbon monoxide problems from occurring.

1. Monitor Your Home

Appliances, chimneys and vents all have the potential to create carbon monoxide issues for any homeowner. Furnaces and gas-powered water heaters need to be monitored on a regular basis in order to prevent carbon monoxide leaks. Thanks to advancements in technology, homeowners can monitor the environment of their home and reduce the risk of poisoning by detecting gas—and sounding an audible alarm long before it reaches dangerous levels.

Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skills and tools. Chimneys and vents need to be checked for visible soot, rust, stains, blockages or corrosion as they can prevent air from properly filtering out of a home.

2. Practice Car Safety

One should never leave a vehicle running when parked in an enclosed space like a garage, especially when it is attached to the home. Iowa State’s College of Engineering urges that one should never operate an engine in a closed building. The extremely high concentrations of carbon monoxide produced by an engine can raise carbon monoxide concentrations in a closed building so quickly that a person could collapse before even realizing there is a problem.

3. Heat Your Home Properly

It’s important to properly heat a home in order to avoid dangerous circumstances for your family. Never use a gas range or oven to heat your home, and be sure to properly service and adjust the furnace. The University of Maine warns that an oven may go out or not burn well when being used to heat a room and this leads to carbon monoxide poisoning.

4. Practice Safe Grilling

Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern or portable camping stove inside a home, tent or camper. The University of Maine warns that charcoal briquettes burned indoors can release odorless, but toxic, carbon monoxide fumes that can cause death. The University of Maine also recommends never using bottled gas indoors, and warns that piping made for gas-burning appliances may be unsafe for use with higher-temperature oil, coal or wood smoke.

5. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Install at least one smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector on the entry level of your home and near each of your bedrooms. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) recommends testing your carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month and becoming familiar with the sounds that the alarm makes. Also, make sure that you don’t fall behind on replacing your alarms. Certain key components in CO Detectors have a limited life span. Generally speaking, once CO detectors are 5-7 years old, they should be replaced to insure your continued protection.

It’s important to be proactive with carbon monoxide monitoring. If a homeowner or anyone in the home begins to unexpectedly experience headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, chest pain or confusion it could be a sign of a carbon monoxide leak. It’s always better to act quickly and save someone’s health by exiting a home and calling the proper authorities than it is to write off symptoms and risk life. According to the Center for Disease Control, at least 430 Americans die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

This problem is extremely preventable… and the NFPA advises that if you begin to feel the side effects, or if a CO alarm sounds, move outdoors by an open window or nearby open door and make sure everyone in the building gets to fresh air.

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